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Week 41: Weight and Back in Kenya

What I weighed the night I returned from Kenya:

What I weighed right before I headed back to Kenya three weeks later:

It’s not ten pounds, but nine is pretty close, eh?  Familiar food is good.  My favorite moment during my weight gaining escapade occurred at Pizza Hut the first weekend I was back.  I had returned to the table with my third helping of pizza and my dad said to me concerned, “Let’s not go overboard, Robert.”  He then got up to get some more food and my mom leaned over and said, “Now, you just keep on eating because you’re too skinny!”

Unexpected Blessing:
Listening to NPR (Sweet Jesus, I’ve missed NPR more than anyone will ever know) on the way home from Dallas to Tulsa, Rick Steves came on the radio for an hour session about airplane travel.   He had a flight attendant on who had written a book about smart travel and funny incidents he had seen in his 20 years of attending flights.  The main point that Rick kept making is that traveling by plane is a major blessing.  Whenever we start to have a grumpy moment remember that you are going to travel around the world at 700 miles an hour in a fraction of what it would take by land or sea.  Of course we all know this, but for some reason hearing it from somebody else made it sink in.  So, my three flights back to Kenya I was all smiles and happy even when the person in front of me leaned their seat back and my legs went crunch.  Thanks Rick and NPR!

I’m back in beautiful Kenya!  I’ve been having a party with jet lag… not really.  It is great to be back and I am excited about finishing my last month here with enthusiasm and energy.  Word.  Thanks for reading.

Week 40: Sam’s Wedding

One of my best friends from college, Sam (pictured below), had his wedding last Friday.

Sam’s present to me at the rehearsal dinner (Amazing! Thanks Sam):

Sam lived across the hall from me our freshman year.  Some how we weren’t friends until about half way through our first semester.  Our mutual friend Rachel told me she thought we would be really good friends, so the next time I ran into Sam in the bathroom I told him, “Hey, my name’s Robert and we’re going to be best friends.  Rachel said so” and the rest is history which has not been written down yet…  Sam had asked me to be in the wedding last summer, but I told him that I would be in Kenya.  Well, things worked out to where I was home the same time as the wedding which was really nice because I had been stressing the entire year about having to miss it.

The morning started off with a full 18 holes of golf with the groomsmen and me.  I’ve played golf twice now, so you can probably foresee that I am an amazing golfer.  Hukuna shida (No problem) because I had an great time and made the putt of the day.  I wasn’t on the green yet, but I still like to use my putter because I’ve played a lot of putt putt.

The Putt

The wedding was beautiful and I am so happy for Sam.  Sam is one of the nicest guys you’re ever going to meet and so I was worried he wouldn’t be able to find a gal of equal niceness, but he done did it.  Katie is as nice and positive as Sam and I do believe that he married up which I thought was impossible.  So, congrats to Sam and Katie.

At the reception I did some dance moves (and movements) I haven’t done in a while and woke up the next morning reminded of said movements.  It was a fun night where I got to see many people I hadn’t seen in a long time.  It was crazy as I thought the entire night, “I’ll be back in Kenya in four days!”

The wedding photographer took all the good photos so I left my camera in my pocket, but here is a photo of me which sums up the dance night.

Week 40: Visiting the Morgans and the Giffords

On my way down to Fort Worth for my good friend Sam’s wedding, I was able to stop in Sherman and Allen for a short visit with two of my adoptive families.

While at Austin College, I was involved with Covenant Presbyterian Church all four years.  Their pastor is Rev. Neill Morgan and I spent a January term and semester serving as Neill’s intern following him around everywhere and eventually preaching my first official sermon (non-testimony/non-my story) at Covenant.  During this time, I also grew close to Neill’s wife, Nancy, and to three of their four daughters: Beth, Suzannah, and Tamara (Rachel was already off at college).  So, now whenever I have a chance I try to make it to the Morgan’s for good home cooked food, to see which daughter has grown the most (Tamara), to talk and catch up with everyone (especially Nancy), play guitar with Neill (he has amazing guitars), and if I time it right to lazily listen to NPR in the morning.  Neill turned 50 in late May so I must give him a shout out…


Neill and I playing guitar:

I then journeyed down to Allen to spend time with my other parents, John and Anne Gifford.  My last two years of college I served as the youth director for the First Presbyterian Church of Allen and the Giffords graciously took me in to live with them for the summer of 2005.  We are all Austin College alums and we continually have random connections through our shared alma mater.  Oh, so many stories to tell… let’s see, one of my favorites occured the day I moved in with them.  I pulled up to their house, got out, and decided to take an enormous load of clothes in my arms with me as I made my way to the front door to save a trip.  I had called them to say I had arrived.  As I brought my hand up to knock on the door I hear one of them yell, “Robert!”  I turn my head to the left and about ten houses down they are frantically waving their arms and smiling.  I was getting ready to move into the wrong house…  That sums up our relationship well.

On this short visit, I had plenty of time to catch up with John and Anne, meet the new dog, sleep in my incredibly comfortable bed, watch The Bucket List (if you haven’t seen it, please do), and be technologically nerdy with John.  It was a great visit and Anne made me an awesome “Have YOU hugged a Presbyterian today?” pillow.  Thanks Anne.  Before I knew it, our time was up and I was off to wedding bo-jazz.

John, Anne, and I (Anne is trying to be taller than usual):

Week 39: Dwight Mission

As I drove around the last corner, I saw the infamous chain-linked fence that has been a part of my life for eleven years now.  That was our signal when I was a camper that we had finally made it to Dwight Mission.  I could write a few hundred pages about Dwight, but some things can’t be said in words (but since this is a blog, I’ll use words).  My life includes four summers as a camper, three summers as a counselor, one summer as assistant program director, and a visit every summer since 1998 in some form or fashion.  Placed in the flint hills of eastern Oklahoma, it is one of the most beautiful places in my life.

My excuse to go to Dwight was to teach the new and old staff members a class about Presbyterianism.  I just wanted to be at Dwight… with the people, with the buildings, and with the memories.  I don’t think I realized I was actually back at Dwight until I walked into the boy’s dormitory, Washburn Hall, God bless it.

So… I took a picture when the realization occurred…

This is where I slept when I was an eighth grader (not in the hall, in the rooms), where I guided the sleepwalking camper back to his bunk, and my favorite of all, where Brian Coulter had to clean up the bathroom after one of my campers clogged up the toilet more outrageously beautiful than I have ever seen to date.  The camper believed that by repeatedly flushing the toilet everything would go down, wrong (Thanks Brian).  I know the dorm well because I know where all of the light switches are without looking or thinking about it.  After realizing where I was, I made my way around camp reminiscing of my memories in different locations.

Dwight has been the most life forming place for me.  It was my youth group when I was in high school, where I gained a lot of confidence in myself and leadership skills while on staff, where I learned how to play guitar, and my happy place when I’m elsewhere now.  Dwight is part of my being.

I think I’ve been avoiding blogging about Dwight because I can’t appropriately blog it in words… yeah, well here’s the link to my blog with John William’s song about Dwight and below are some pictures of Dwight and Dwight related things in the nearest town, Sallisaw:

The Creek:

Wild Horse BBQ:
Some of the best BBQ ever!  In Kenya, I dreamed of this moment!  If you’re ever in Sallisaw then please stop by.

Quiring and East Brothers:
I’m very proud that my little brother, Patrick, is working his second summer on staff at Dwight this year.

Me, Josh, Tara, and E-Sharp

Life Goal #76:

Week 38: The Communal Effort of Getting Robert to Church

Since I was in Austin, I wanted to visit the church I will be serving next year as an intern.  The service was very nice and creative and got me excited about next year.  However, this is the story of how I got to church.

Saturday, the conference ended and I began to plan for Sunday morning.  How would I get there?  I started calling around to no avail.  What would I wear?  I decided upon a suit, but was missing black socks and dress shoes.  As the night progressed, I knocked on my friend Chris’ door and acquired shoes that were slightly too big for me, but beggars can’t be choosers.  Then my lovely, beautiful friend, Allison, offered her car to me if I could get to her house.  So, I called my Episcopalian duo, Shyla and Eric, and asked for assistance getting the car.  They agreed graciously and I asked Eric if he had any black socks.  He had mismatched leftovers which I gladly accepted.  I went to bed Saturday night with everything miraculously straightened out, I assumed.

Sunday morning, I woke up, showered, shaved, and was putting on my suit when problem number 17 occurred.  I buttoned my pants and they fell right to the floor.  It is my dad’s old suit which was slightly too big for me to begin with and I have lost some weight, uh oh.  I do the next logical thing and call my good friend, Mary Elizabeth, to ask where she stashes her belts.  She tells me and ends with the comment, “I’m not sure if they’ll fit you.”  To which I chuckle, I take out the only belt that could possibly work and it fits perfectly… aside from the fact that it is a round girlie belt buckle kind of belt.

So, fifteen minutes early, I arrive to this new church for the first time dressed in my father’s over sized suit, Mary Elizabeth’s girlie belt, Eric’s mismatched socks, and Chris’ big shoes.  Booyah world!

The belt:

The socks:

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